As an immediate response to the unprecedented increase in applications for asylum in Austria in the summer of 2015, the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID)’s local outreach initiative supported language learning for the newly arrived who were residing in Austria’s rural areas. In addition to providing German-language learning materials, KAICIID – in cooperation with the interreligious NGO MenschenRechteReligion – hosted bi-monthly visits to Austria’s capital as an incentive for those regularly attending German-language classes. The aim of these visits was to give the participants an understanding of Vienna’s rich history and culture through customised Arabic- and Farsi-language city tours. During the summer and winter holidays, the visits were specifically tailored for children.
Over a period of one and a half years, KAICIID organized 15 cultural orientation visits to Vienna, supporting a total of 900 newly arrived persons. The visits introduced the participants to the Austrian Parliament, the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Vienna’s Jewish quarter, various museums, including the Belvedere, the Natural History Museum, the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance and many more. Throughout the visits, the German-language progress was evident as during the last visits, the city tour was given in German and the participants eagerly asked questions in their new language they had perfected over time.
To conclude the German language support, we look into the life of some of the participants in our programme, who have learned the difficult language, and have become active and engaged members of their communities. With the gradual decline in applications for asylum, KAICIID’s focus is shifting to a long-term approach to integration with its Refugees in Europe Programme.
KAICIID will continue to support refugee integration through the Refugees in Europe Programme, launched in February 2017, which strives to support refugee integration through dialogue-based projects. This project is currently being piloted in Vienna.